a view from the laundry pile…

…it's all about perspective.

Knock, knock. Who’s there?

on April 21, 2012

I came out west from New England (Fred and I thought it’d be more fun to live in the same state…crazy, huh?).  I lived back east for more than a decade and, absolutely, fell in love with it. Grant it, the driving was a little hairy, the weather a little extreme – but the people were great. I remember being told, before I moved there, to “expect to be snubbed” because I was an ‘outsider.’  But nothing could’ve been further than the truth. Even though the people are, basically, “keep to themselves” types, they’re genuine. What you see is what you get and, if you don’t like it, too bad, so sad.

I especially liked my neighbors.  Across the street was Mona. A 70-something, retired widow who even with all of her health issues (she was a veritable poster child for disease), absolutely loved life to the fullest. She had owned a travel agency and, as far as I know, had visited every country on the planet, at least once, if not more.   

Right next door to me were Pat and Charlie. They were in their late 50’s at the time, very quiet, not unfriendly at all, just not what I’d call “outgoing.” But, for whatever reason, they took a shine to me – and I to them. Pat was a nervous little thing, always twitching and touching her nose when she chattered on and on about this and that.  I always wanted to see if what would happen if I held her arms down to her side and asked her a question. Charlie, on the other hand, was painfully shy. I’m pretty sure he had no idea what I looked like for the first few years I lived there as, whenever he actually did say something to me, he was talking to my feet. Living there, for so many years, ‘interesting’ things were bound to happen…and they did.  

I remember one beautiful summer day, the sun was shining, the birds were…yeah, you get the idea. I was walking through the livingroom and glanced out the window to see Charlie, in his coveralls, leaning over the back porch, tinkering with something along the railing. I went about my day and, about an hour later, I noticed he was still out there…but, this time, was on the other side of the railing, hanging sort of…sideways.  (When I’d gotten the story, later from Pat he, apparently, leaned out too far and went right over…but not before getting hooked up in the railing and was good and stuck there). I watched him writhe around for another minute, gripping the spindles as he was trying, unsuccessfully, to fling his right foot over the top of the railing, wondering how long he’d been there. And, when I surmised there was no way he was getting out of this, by himself, without stripping off his clothes (this was the same man who, when in the hospital, wouldn’t let anyone but Pat give him a sponge bath), I went over to see if I could help. 

The minute he saw me across the lawn he, obviously, panicked as he started wriggling harder in a desperate attempt to escape.  When I finally got over to him, the movement stopped, and he was facing away from me.  Did he think if he kept really still I wouldn’t notice him dangling there? 

“Whatcha doing, Charlie?” I asked. I heard a small whimper come from him when he realized I had, indeed, spotted him and wasn’t going away. “Just hanging around today?” I waited for a reply. “I…I think I’m stuck” he finally whispered.  Yes, I could see that, too.  As I stepped through the bushes a faint “no no no” escaped his lips.  “Okay, let’s get you down from here…” I said as I got directly under him and, using all my strength (though rather thin, he was still about 6′ tall…), pushed up.  It was, seriously,  like trying to lift a friggin’ Hefty bag full of Jell-O over my head.  First attempt, big fail.  Second to come.  I told Charlie he was going to have to pull when I pushed, not just hang there like a wet noodle. Once that was cleared up and we’d coordinated our efforts, all it took was one big shove to produce a nasty “rrrrrrip!” and a loud “thud.” Charlie was now free. He was also now laying flat on his back on the deck with an 8″ hole in the side of his coveralls because, between our combined efforts, he was not only propelled up but went back over the railing.

“Are you okay, Charlie?” I asked, poking at him through the spindles.  He groaned a little and finally replied “uh huh.”  “Let me help you up” I said, as I backed out of the bushes. “NO!”  he quickly retorted.  I started to giggle.  I think this was the loudest I’d ever heard him talk.  “Okay. I’ll leave you thereI teased. “But only because it’s not raining.  However, if I don’t see you up in, say, an hour, I will come back to help you…”  I think that was just the motivation to help him to his feet…

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